What To Know Today
NEW FROM THE TRACE: Seasons aside, extreme heat still contributes to gun violence, study says. It’s been shown that violent crime typically increases in the summer, but a new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that abnormally high temperatures, regardless of the season in which they occur, are associated with more shootings. The study, published December 16, reviewed data from the 100 most populous cities in the U.S. with the most shootings from 2015 to 2020. They found that the hottest days year-round have the highest incidence of gun violence. The study suggests that climate change could worsen gun violence. And the effects could be compounded in disadvantaged communities that may lack tree cover, parks, and other green spaces. Our public health reporter, Fairriona Magee, has that story.
NEW FROM THE TRACE: For two years in a row, Philadelphia has surpassed the grim milestone of 500 murders. The city’s 500th homicide occurred less than a week before Christmas. Though this year’s total is not likely to surpass 2021’s record, 2022 is still expected to be the second deadliest year in the city’s history. The city’s mayor attributed the slight decrease to police reforms, violence intervention programs, and taking more guns off the street. You can read the full story from our Philadelphia reporter, Mensah Dean, here.
Permits are no longer required, but more Texans are being charged with unlawful gun carrying. The Lone Star State is one of more than 25 states that now allow residents to carry handguns openly or concealed in public without a permit, but reporting suggests that many Texans are unaware of other rules that govern where and how they may legally carry their firearms. Convictions for unlawfully carrying weapons skyrocketed 550 percent between 2020 and 2021, when more than 7,000 Texans were convicted for the crime. There’s no single explanation for the spike: People may be taking fewer license-to-carry training classes or may not know the locations — like airports, courthouses, hospitals, and many bars — where guns are still generally not allowed. The rise in gun purchases since the pandemic could have also contributed. Another explanation may be that some Texans may have believed that they could carry guns without a license before the law actually went into effect on September 1, 2021.
An inspector posing as an intruder slipped into an Uvalde school during a safety audit. The revelation, shared during a school board meeting on Monday, was unnerving for a community just six months removed from a mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in May. The inspector was able to enter through a loading dock door that had not locked correctly. Security audits are part of the statewide plan Governor Greg Abbott implemented following the Robb Elementary shooting. Schools are randomly selected for assessments. More from The Trace: Last month, we wrote about how Uvalde families are pushing for reforms after the shooting.
Florida gun owners could face charges after a 12-year-old accidentally shoots himself. The boy was visiting the Lakeland, Florida, home of a 13-year-old friend whose parents were out of town on December 16, when he found a gun in a car and accidentally shot himself. He died at Tampa General Hospital. Police say the incident remains under investigation and there may be charges filed against the gun owners for failure to properly secure the weapon. More from The Trace: Accidental shootings can have devastating consequences, especially when children are involved, as they often are. My colleague Jennifer Mascia recently answered a reader’s question about accidental shootings in an Ask The Trace. She found that accidental shootings deaths have risen among the youngest children, and more unsecured guns could be a contributing factor.
$1,000-$1,500 — The amount in cash grants available to shooting victims and their families in five Chicago neighborhoods as part of a new pilot program to support community members affected by gun violence. [Chicago Sun-Times]